Beauty from Ashes

photos courtesy of Katie Hollis Dowell

Georgetown Woman Crowned Mrs. Texas American

Gliding across the Mrs. Texas stage in a white gown and five-and-a-half-inch heels to accept the crown that would take her to nationals, Georgetown’s Katie Hollis Dowell thought of all the women across Texas she was representing. 

The example she was setting that a wife and mother can be a beauty queen too. She thought of the awareness she would raise for Build Your Beautiful Life, an organization inspired by a scoliosis battle that ultimately propelled her into the beauty pageant spotlight.

The Struggle

For the high school cheerleader who did “all the normal high school things,” scoliosis came as a devastating blow. Unlike most people who grow out of the back illness or recover after wearing a brace, Katie needed rods implanted in her back, which became infected and required five more surgeries. “That took a big toll on my self-esteem and my physical and mental health, and it took me a long time to understand that I was going to make it through and would not be disabled for life,” she says.

Without God and counseling, she says, she would not have made it. Today, she wants to uplift others who struggle with mental health issues by first normalizing them. “When I was in high school, people sometimes said, ‘They’re doing it for attention.’ There is a stigma around mental health and we have to break that. It takes a lot of courage for people to speak up,” she says.

Katie hopes people will use Build Your Beautiful Life to begin their journey of healing, perhaps to find help with counselor fees or someone safe to talk to. She is working on turning Build Your Beautiful Life into a nonprofit and spreading the word about the organization, starting with the Mrs. Texas beauty pageant.

The Pageant

A sophomore pageant candidate, Katie initially considered hanging up her sash after her daughter was born. “I actually felt really led to give it another shot,” she says. “I want to show people who are physically or mentally struggling that they can turn their battles into something beautiful. No matter how low you are or what rut you may be in, you can build something beautiful. As Mrs. Texas, I would have the opportunity to reach more people and inspire them to see that there’s hope and a future if you just hold on, reach out, and get help.”

Last year’s pageant—dampened by COVID—was a masked event with no audience, so Katie was excited to compete in front of the crowd in Corsicana. Having just made Georgetown her home, she retained and competed with her east Texas title, Mrs. Houston County. Interview questions covered platform topics like what she believed set her apart from the other 20 contestants—having to accept her body with its scars and flaws and learning to take care of her mental health at a young age—and the charming get-to-know-you questions like who was better at golf, her or her husband, and her favorite road trip…weekend trips to Fredericksburg and Buc-ee’s stops, “What Texas girl doesn’t love Buc-ee’s?”

The Crown

Katie was crowned Mrs. Texas American, a new title added this year, while Waco’s Ashley Beard was named Mrs. Texas America. Both will represent the Lone Star State in Las Vegas in November in different divisions. “As women, we have so many things on our plate, and I am just honored to show other American women that we can go be something outside the mother and wife roles. With the pandemic, we have gotten caught up in taking care of our families and forgotten to take care of ourselves,” Katie says. “When I was crowned, I felt like it wasn’t about me, I represented so many omen across Texas.”

To keep up with Katie’s journey to Mrs. America, follow her on Instagram, mrskatiedowell.

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